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Exhilaration of rally drives kids to racetrack



Published: Sat, April 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



About 60 kids took part in the event, which was a precursor to the national Soap Box Derby in July.

By VIRGINIA ROSS

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Loralei Gallaher doesn't mind waiting for her turn on the track because of the exhilaration that racing brings.

The thrill of the downhill event often lasts less than 60 seconds, but it's an experience that brings the 15-year-old girl back to the races weekend after weekend.

Crouched inside the purple car she built with her dad, the North Sewickley Township, Beaver County girl, crosses each finish line hoping to gain enough points to qualify to compete in the rally division of the 68th All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron on July 30.

A ninth-grader at Riverside Area High School, she was one of about 60 drivers who spent most of Saturday participating in a spring rally, sponsored by the New Castle Soap Box Derby Association.

"It's hard to explain," said Loralei, who has been racing for five years. "It's just this great feeling to be racing. It's like once you start, you don't want to stop."

Racing continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today along Municipal Drive in Union Township.

The conditions

The 700-foot track isn't as steep as some, Loralei said. But the ride is just as much fun. Youngsters between 8 and 17 raced the 700-yard track, where drivers of stock, superstock and masters class cars competed. Categories are based on the weight of the car.

Stock cars weigh 200 pounds; superstock cars, 230 pounds; and masters cars, 260 pounds. Bigger kids need bigger cars, organizers said.

Participants traveled to the rally from throughout western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.

"Some of us go to different rallies in different places, to gain points," said Danielle Hughes, 15, of Grove City, Ohio. Danielle is in her seventh year of Soapbox Derby Racing. "I race just about every weekend. Once you do it, you love it and you want to keep doing it."

Alex Trecho, 10, of Economy, Pa., said he's been racing a little over a year and plans to continue participating in the sport as long as possible.

"It's just this cool feeling, going downhill, and you pick up speed," he said. "It makes you feel really good."

Rally organizers said they are trying to encourage more area youths to participate. A second rally in the New Castle area is being planned for September. Also, a local qualifying race for the big race in July will take place June 18.

"We're trying to get the word out and get more people involved," said Mark Mroczynski, president of the local association. "I think it's a great opportunity for kids to be involved in a great sport."

For more information, about the events or the local organization, contact Mroczynski at (724) 774-1762, Beth or Brian Boyd at (724) 658-5617, or Bob Gallaher at (724) 843-1954.




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